In general, the vaping industry—including both e-cigarettes and THC vapes—has touted vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking.
But now, many insurance companies are calling that claim into question. And as they do, many insurance companies are choosing to treat vapers the same way they treat smokers. In many cases, that includes higher premiums and other costs—if not being excluded from coverage altogether.
Insurers Treat Vapers and Smokers the Same
According to a new report from Reuters, insurance companies around the world are reconsidering how they treat customers who vape.
In large part, such considerations are a result of new health concerns raised this year. Specifically, there has been a string of lung injuries, illnesses, and even deaths throughout 2019 that have been linked to vaping THC cartridges.
All told, Reuters reports that there have been 47 deaths from vape-related health complications. Recently, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention identified vitamin E acetate as the main culprit behind the health problems.
Additionally, other tests found that black market THC cartridges were much more likely to contain vitamin E acetate than legal carts. Experts say that sellers sometimes use the substance to cut the oil in their THC cartridges.
In any case, these and other similar health concerns have prompted many insurance companies to reconsider vaping. Around the world, reinsurers—companies that insure the insurance companies—have been revising policies related to vapers.
In some cases, insurers were already viewing vapers and smokers as the same. But more recently, a number of large insurance companies and reinsurance companies have altered their stance.
Most notably, Hannover RE advised insurers to treat vapers, especially those younger than 25, the same as tobacco smokers. Similarly, SCOR warned insurers about covering people who vape THC products. Swiss Re said the same thing to insurance companies they underwrite.
What It Means for Vapers
This shift in how insurance companies view people who vape—especially those who vape THC products—could have big implications for consumers.
In some cases, insurance companies might charge significantly higher premiums and fees. And in other cases, most notably among life insurance companies, vapers and smokers might not be eligible for coverage at all.
For example, Nico van Zyl, a medical director at reinsurer Hannover RE recently said that life insurance companies should reconsider whether or not they’ll extend coverage to vapers. He said that this category of consumer, like tobacco smokers, should be considered a high risk group.
Similarly, reinsurer SCOR officially recommends that life insurers flat-out exclude tobacco smokers and those who vape THC products.
Not surprisingly, these developments are alarming to those advocating for vape consumers. This is especially true among those who view vaping as a way of gradually weaning off of cigarettes.
“Getting insurance is really expensive for people who have taken steps to quit tobacco,” Simon Manthorpe, CEO of vaping company Vapemate, told Reuters.
Similarly, many in the cannabis industry point out that legal THC cartridges are typically run through extensive quality testing. As a result, some argue that legal carts should not be viewed with as much skepticism as illegal carts.